P.N.03 ("P.N." stands for Product Number) is a futuristic third-person shooter designed by Shinji Mikami and published by Capcom. It was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2003. The game was initially part of what was known as the "Capcom Five," a collection of five Capcom titles in development exclusively for the GameCube. Of the games in the Capcom Five that made it to market, only P.N. 03 remained exclusive to the GameCube platform.
The main idea behind P.N. 03 is the style - bounty hunter Vanessa Z. Schneider dances as she fights renegade robots. Do an energy attack and she artfully glides into an energetic pose, legs splayed and palms out. Do another one and she pirouettes sideways, arching her back in another impractical though beautiful pose. The plot is all but non-existent, but mastering the quirky fighting techniques is the key to success.
Vanessa is hired by the mysterious client to inspect and clear an outpost taken over by renegade robots. Receiving instructions via an encrypted communication's channel, Vanessa and her client develop a playful relationship. As she explores the facility, she finds evidence of cloning experiments and gradually learns more of the outpost, as well as the client - whose identity is not revealed until the end.
Dressed in skimpy, revealing armor, protagonist Vanessa must fight legions of robots, clearing them room by room. As she fights, she appears to be dancing in a sexually provocative manner. The controls were quirky, and required much time to master.
Vanessa was armed with a palm blaster and special moves called energy drives that draw energy from her Aegis Suit. Taking a cue from Capcom's series Street Fighter, the energy drives were initiated with quick commands of the directional pad. Different suits had different energy drives available.
The key to success in P.N. 03 was the dodging method. By pressing the shoulder buttons, Vanessa would flip to the side, doing a cartwheel. This made her somewhat invulnerable to weapons fire, and was a critical skill to master. Frequently, the pattern of playing P.N. 03 was to encounter a robot, blast it with the A button until it fired lasers, and the to dodge and repeat.
When a player delved deeper into the game at higher difficulty levels, other methods were critical to master. A pirouette move made Vanessa invulnerable for a frame or two, and a backwards leap into the air was the best way to avoid certain types of enemy fire. Aggression was rewarded, because taking time to dodge reduced your combo chain, which reduced your resources to upgrade your firepower. This led to intense, frantic gameplay.
Tactically leveling up your armor with points was the other strategic element. The points scored during gameplay can be used to buy new suits, which differ in weapon and shielding statistics as well as the available energy drives. Statistics such as rate of fire, shielding and energy drive could also be improved. As Vanessa acquired new suits in the game, they became more skimpy and revealing. The most difficult to acquire armor in the game cutouts to reveal a thong. Though the attack power was the best in the game, she could be killed in a single hit.
The five main missions of the game consist of a series of rooms to navigate through, while eliminating the robots within. These missions also contain one or more boss battles. Between the main missions the player can execute "Trial Missions" which are randomly generated from the rooms encountered so far in the main game.
P.N.03's gameplay has an old-school flavor. The various rooms require the player to use the available cover, learn the spawning and firing patterns of enemies and find the most efficient way of clearing the room. There is also a time-based combo system that rewards chaining kills. The main game can be finished in just a few hours, but completing all the difficulty levels and unlocking all suits and different endings can take 20 hours.
The tank-style control scheme and repetitive gameplay, while deliberate design choices, were the most frequent criticisms against the game and the sales were relatively low. Some players still enjoyed the rhythmic challenge of room-clearing. P.N.03 is also presented in a very stylish fashion; Vanessa executes her energy drives with impressive dance moves and taps her foot to the minimalistic techno soundtrack.